Letter: Planet is what we eat | Opinion | ABnews24

Sun, December 16, 2018
Letter: Planet is what we eat
William Rees, professor emeritus at UBC, spoke on the importance of food security at Kwantlen Polytechnic University's Place-Based Food Systems Conference. Photo: Graeme Wood
William Rees, professor emeritus at UBC, spoke on the importance of food security at Kwantlen Polytechnic University's Place-Based Food Systems Conference. Photo: Graeme Wood
Kelly Reynolds: Dear Editor,
 
Re: “Earth, we have a problem,” Richmond News, Aug. 16.
 
I’d like to commend the News for covering the international Place-Based Food Systems conference held in Richmond and posing the question “how do we, in Richmond, go from thinking sustainably, to living sustainably?”
 
Exploring ideas on growing our own gardens, limiting housing sizes, eating locally sourced foods and promoting community garden plots and urban agriculture are all actions we can take to lower our ecological footprint. But, in reading these articles, what felt lacking in this coverage was a missed opportunity to address sustainability as it relates to food choice – something we all have control over.
 
When considering climate change, are people aware that what we eat has a profound impact? That our dietary preferences, specifically the consumption of meat and dairy products, contribute substantially to global warming?
 
The fact is that animal agriculture accounts for 18 per cent of all global warming gases (and that’s conservative – World Bank scientists estimate the number closer to 51 per cent).
 
It’s responsible for one-third of all fresh water consumption in the world today. To produce one hamburger uses 3,000 litres of water – the equivalent of showering for two months. We’re using one-third of Earth’s land for livestock or its feed. Instead of funneling crops through animals, the land we’re using to grow crops could be used to feed people directly.
 
As Professor Rees points out, humans are “liquidating the natural capital” of the planet and “dumping wastes into the ecosphere faster than natural systems can assimilate and reprocess them.” Sadly, animal agriculture is at the heart of almost every environmental issue we face – species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction.
 
If we continue on this trajectory, our future or our children’s future is grim,  to say the least. Yet, here we are – warning signs in flashing (incandescent) lights. If the goal is to promote practices that reduce environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions, eating a plant-based diet or making incremental shifts towards eating less meat and dairy and more plants can mean a different future for us all.
 
We have the choice of what to put in our mouths and there is an abundance of accessible information and recipes available, more than ever before. If we look to a rainbow spectrum of plant-based foods – vegetables, fruit, beans, lentils, whole grains, quinoa, tofu, nuts – we will not only help our planet, the animals but our health and the economy too. – Richmond News
 
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